Include the Gap Year Option in Your College Planning
Let’s look at why and how to do that.
“I would have loved to take a gap year, but I didn’t know it was an option.” I hear that often.
Understanding just what a gap year is and isn’t will help you decide if a gap year should be included on your path to college. The decision to gap is intentional, and so should be the decision not to.
1. A gap year (or semester) is a period of time devoted to personal, practical, and professional growth through experience. It generally involves a series of new and challenging activities such as an internship, a cultural immersion program, a self-directed journey, or paid employment. Check out the Gap Year Association, Gap Yearly, or A Gap Away for sample ideas to help you envision your own gap year.
2. What is your why? Focusing on the range of reasons why you might want to take a gap year can help in your decision process. Common reasons include gaining life experience, personal growth, global perspective, honing a skill, exploring a major of study, and service work, but ultimately each student has their own goals.
3. The data from the 2020 Gap Year Alumni Survey speaks for itself. Gap students are more likely to graduate on time, more mature and focused in college, more employable post-college, and it could save you money in the long run. Gap students are more civically engaged and more likely to get involved in college campus activities. Colleges love gap students.
The choice to gap is empowering – and you get to set the path. In the words of a former Lincoln-Sudbury student –
“I’m really thankful that I had an opportunity for a gap year and that I had the courage to take that opportunity because it gave me a chance to distance myself from all of the super-high expectations, and all the opinions that everybody else has that don’t really matter. I was able to listen to my own internal voice, and to reflect, and take responsibility for the path that I wanted to be on.”
Sandy Storer is a member of the Gap Year Association Board of Directors and is a Gap Year Coach with A Gap Away, based in Lincoln, MA.
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